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Habits

What’s the Number One Coping Skill in Today’s World? Meeting Drama with Detachment

Detachment is not about being aloof or withdrawing from the world. We can be passionate, involved, enthusiastic, and engaged with life in all its forms.

Living in seclusion may help some people to go deep within but for others that sort of separation from the world is not desired or possible. The detachment contemplated in this article is an internal process to be undertaken while remaining immersed in life matters.

Attachment to certain outcomes, exaggerated reactions to events, skewed perspectives, and over-the-top emotions all create drama and turmoil. Especially in cases of over-care and over-identification where happiness and life’s meaning are based on success, achievements and possessions.
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Depression

Is Your Internet Use Killing Your Productivity and Making You Depressed?

We’ve expanded our minds. It’s no longer contained inside our heads -- it now includes our devices, social media, and essentially anything digital. While the connectedness available to us today has opened a number of doors, it’s not always a good thing. We no longer have time to think and create our own ideas. In fact, too much digital connectedness can be a bad thing -- for our mental health as well as our creative ventures.

Constant surfing and intake of bite-sized information crowds out time for contemplation. Because of neuroplasticity (which is the ability for our brains to change), the more we use the web, the more we train our brains to be distracted. As a consequence, we then rely even more on the net because we have trouble remembering. We don’t need to recollect anything. Most people are constantly attached to a smartphone, which has become a portable brain.
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Children and Teens

Talking to Your Children about the Threat of Nuclear War

On Nov. 29th, the Today Show reported on North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch and then my 13-year-old son Tommy asked, "Is North Korea going to bomb us? Mom, is this going to be our last Christmas?"

I was struck by Tommy's intelligence and lack of innocence in his startling inquiry. I was born in 1963, the year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and grew up during the Cold War. But I would have never had the wherewithal to ask something such as this. Schools had stopped teaching duck and cover. I don't think I even knew in junior high what a nuclear bomb was. The only hint I had that these types of weapons existed was the fact that my older brother had a poster on his wall which offered advice about what to do if a nuke bomb went off. It said, "Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye."
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Celebrities

#MeToo: You Too?

A viral campaign that has been making the rounds on social media comes equipped with a hashtag and an attempt to bring attention to the prevalence of sexual harassment and abuse, both in the workplace and in personal life. It arose because of the not so secret secret of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (no relation to this author) threatening and assaulting women.

On October 15th, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted: "If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet." She
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Anger

Trump’s Nicknames and the Psychology of Bullying

In his Sept. 19 speech before the U.N., Donald Trump mockingly referred to the President of North Korea as “Rocket Man.”

During and after the presidential campaign, Trump bestowed offensive nicknames on several of his opponents. There was, famously, “Crooked Hillary”, but there was also “Little Marco”, “Crazy Bernie” and “Lyin Ted” for Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Ted Cruz, respectively. Trump also repeatedly referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” a jibe at her assertion of Native American heritage. More recently, Trump has given Sen. Chuck Schumer a series of nicknames, including "Head Clown," "Fake Tears" and "Cryin' Chuck."

Why does any of this matter? As a psychiatrist, I believe Trump’s habit of bestowing offensive nicknames opens a window into the psychology of bullying -- and
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Ethics & Morality

Pathologizing the President Reinforces Mental Illness Stigma

A large group of psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and other mental health workers have declared Donald Trump mentally ill and unfit to be president.

They don’t name the mental illness, or cite any specific behaviors that make him a threat to the country or constitution. They merely state that he is sick and call for his ouster.

“Duty to Warn” has the signatures of 60,000 mental health professionals, none of whom have assessed the president, on a petition calling for Trump’s removal due to “serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.” [Ed. - Actually, as we pointed out here back in August, this is simply a petition of 60,000 signatures -- NOT of ONLY mental health professionals. For context, there are 340+ million individuals in the United States. Psychology Today was pedaling its own version of "fake news."]

To take the petition at it’s word, it is not any deviant acts that disqualify Trump, but the mere fact that the undersigned believe he has a mental illness, and that alone disqualifies him. Many responsible people have serious mental illness that they manage, and they function very well. But they still have a serious mental illness. Would these doctors disqualify this group of patients from doing their jobs?
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Anger

The Las Vegas Shooting: A Therapist’s Perspective

In texting with my mother and sister about the mass shootings in Las Vegas, they shared their concerns, sadness and confusion. “Mental Illness?” my sister asked, as I am the professional… I suppose.

In my career I have worked with clients who have committed murder, who have had multiple cases of sexually assaulting young children or disabled victims, who have been witnesses to traumas of being held at gunpoint, sex trafficking, watching one parent shoot the other, incest by a parent. These are extreme cases and I wish I could say they are rare.

My reactions to mass shootings, the opioid drug epidemic, and other heart-wrenching situations that you wish were not reality, are extremely mixed. I have to react as a human being and as a therapist in the field. Maybe saying I “have to” is not accurate. In actuality, I am just internally torn.
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Anger

What You Can Do Before Anger Becomes Violence

When I heard about the violent attacks in Las Vegas, my heart sank. Why does this keep happening and what can we do to prevent it from happening again?

Awful things are happening with much more frequency. The sense of powerlessness with each tragedy can feel paralyzing. What can we do? Blaming and crucifying the perpetrator doesn't stop the violence. 

There are things that you can do. While you cannot control or prevent another person’s behavior you can help. First, pay attention to anyone in your life that's really struggling. Check in with them and listen. It's not your job to assess their mental state but notice what's happening. Not everyone suffering is in crisis, but don't be afraid to ask questions. If you have concerns, share them with their family. Don't stay quiet.
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Creativity

Recommendations for Reporting on Mental Health & Mental Illness

Despite providing education online for mental illness and mental health issues for more than two decades, here at Psych Central we still see people -- and sometimes even fellow journalists -- reporting on mental health and mental illness in ways that perpetuate ignorance and misunderstandings. I'm sure that in many cases this is not intentional, but simply because the journalist didn't know any better.

In celebration of mental health week (Oct 2 -8) this year, we've developed the following guidelines and recommendations for journalists on how to report and write more thoughtfully and respectfully about mental illness and mental health issues.

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Habits

Is the News Ruining Your Life?

With all the recent news stories about escalating tensions here, strife there, and severe weather all over the place it’s no wonder that we are all a bit more on edge than normal. It is easy to get caught up in the various news cycles and to become fixated on what is going on globally. Keeping up with current events is one thing, but allowing current events to affect your life is another.

If you have found yourself feeling more anxious than usual, or like there is something bugging you that you cannot put your finger on, it may be that you are being affected by today’s many world issues. It is hard to avoid all the various stories and problems that are out there. And, while some will argue that awareness is crucial, it could be that the infiltration of these things into your mind has caused challenges for your day-to-day functioning.
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Anxiety and Panic

Secondhand Trauma — Is It Real? The 2017 Hurricane Season Is Affecting Everyone

As we have all witnessed in the last few months, 2017 has produced an incredibly destructive hurricane season. For many of us not living in the affected areas, just watching the devastation on TV and hearing about it on the radio or social media can also cause a deep sense of fear and anxiety.

It can even cause many to suffer secondhand trauma or more specifically, Secondary Trauma Stress (STS). STS is a psychiatric condition which mimics symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It affects individuals who did not witness the traumatic event firsthand but were still exposed to it in other ways.
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